With its excellent performances and tight, smart script written by Rod Serling and Michael Wilson (based on the book by Pierre Boulle), this is a film that stays fresh and interesting even with repeated viewings. Released the same year as "2001: A Space Odyssey", both films are at the top of my "super sci-fi" list, and stack up against the best of what has been released in recent years, which relies more than ever on special effects to tell the story; the effects in "Planet of the Apes" are minimal, and it's the latex make-up that is the marvel, and garnered John Chambers a Special Award at the Oscars for his work, which allows the ape characters full freedom of facial expressions. Oscar nominations went for costume design, and the marvelous score by Jerry Goldsmith.
The cinematography by Leon Shamroy is also fantastic, and I love the aerial descent that starts the film.
Charlton Heston as the astronaut who lands in an "upside down world", and Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall as free thinking scientists are superb, and in smaller roles, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore and James Daly terrific as authority figures in the ape colony.
This film had four sequels, a TV series and a cartoon series, as well as a multitude of merchandise from plastic figurines to bubble gum cards, but the original stays pristine and untarnished by its often silly spin-offs, and is a one-of-a-kind classic.
What this film has, that one can appreciate even when one knows what it is, is that rare thing...a great ending. Very few films leave one with a satisfied feeling at their close, but this one is unique, brilliantly filmed, and like a perfect dessert after a good meal.
Total running time is 112 minutes.